The past twenty-four hours have caused me to think a lot about what people say online. How often do we become outraged at shared screenshots, yet still pass on those scandalous tidbits, or use ‘inside’ knowledge to make ourselves look good, or to make a joke at someone else’s expense?
I had more than a moment of profound embarrassment when I came across the following post on Facebook from someone I do not know. (I have removed any identifying information because names aren’t the reason I’m sharing this.)
I got told off again by somebody who I respect about the ********** / Julia McCready fight in Howard County. The person really behind the fight, the one who started the whole thing was *************/ who is feeding tweets from ********* over to Julie McCready to get her cranked up. Apparently ********* use her as a sock puppet.
But I was cautioned don't stick up for ***********. He's supposed to be a bad guy. he was described as being mean and rude to both men and women and friendly only to **************.
Julian McCready is not supposed to be a basket of peaches either in fact the political operative activist who gave me this information put it this way:
This fight between Julia and ********** is like two 90 year olds on the edge of dementia fighting over the last cup of Cherry Jell-O at the home.
Accompanying this bit of gossip was an enormous copy of my professional head shot, taken when I was on the Oakland Mills Village Board. My descent into mortification was complete.
It’s not simply that all of the information presented as fact was actually false, or the cringe-worthy description of me repeated to amuse the reader. What bothered me most was the unnamed “somebody who I respect” described as “the political operative activist” who was motivated to trash me so thoroughly. Notice how this person does so much damage and manages to remain anonymous. Was it someone I know, perhaps someone I trust?
That’s a truly bad feeling to have.
I stumbled upon this in May and have been mulling over how to respond, if at all. It was already a year old when I found it. But recent exchanges on social media have reminded me of that hot feeling of shame I experienced over something that was completely not my fault. Falsehoods I’ll never be able to set straight with the people who saw them.
No matter how much you believe yourself to be in the right, or how much that other person looks irredeemable to you, don’t be mean just to be mean. Don’t eviscerate someone just because you can, or because it feels good, or because you’re so good at it.
This is advice I have sometimes needed to take myself. I continue to work towards sharing facts when I have them, and identifying my opinions as just that: opinions. Most of all I try to focus on issues. These days if I write in depth about someone it’s usually positive. There are exceptions, of course. I write commentary, and I’m not happy every day.
But there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Not everyone agrees with me on this. I can only speak for myself here: don’t crush people. Don’t gather your social media peeps around you to mock someone who has no way of defending themselves.
No cause is so righteous that it justifies this kind of harm. No joke is so good that it’s worth dragging someone’s good name through the mud.
In conclusion, let me make it absolutely clear that Cherry Jell-o is not even remotely acceptable. If it isn’t Mott’s Strawberry Applesauce things are going to get ugly. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.